The UEFA Europa League round of 16 draw has thrown up some fascinating ties with FC Porto vs. Olympique Lyonnais, Sevilla vs. West Ham United and Barcelona vs. Galatasaray just some of the standout matchups. You can catch all the action on Paramount+.
On top of those, Atalanta BC vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and RB Leipzig vs. Spartak Moscow boast plenty of pedigree while SC Braga vs. AS Monaco, Real Betis vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, and Rangers FC vs. Red Star Belgrade all have mouthwatering potential.
Our picks in the immediate aftermath of the draw.
Europa League Schedule
All times eastern standard
- Atalanta vs. Bayer Leverkusen, March 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- RB Leipzig vs. Spartak Moscow, March 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Braga vs. Monaco, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Real Betis vs. Eintracht Frankfurt March 9, 12:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Rangers vs. Red Star Belgrade, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Sevilla vs. West Ham, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Porto vs. Lyon, Mar 9, 12:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Barcelona vs. Galatasaray, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
Europa Conference League Schedule
- Marseilles vs. Basel, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Leicester vs. Rennes, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- PAOK vs. Gent, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Vitesse vs. Roma, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- PSV vs. Copenhagen, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Slavia Praha vs. LASK, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Bodo/Glimt vs. AZ Alkmaar, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Partizane vs. Feyenoord, March 10, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
1. Porto vs. Lyon
A few years ago, this would have been a UEFA Champions League matchup and it still is in many ways given the talent on display in both squads. The Portuguese giants are not easy opponents for any club on the continental stage while the French powerhouse might have fallen on hard times of late but still made the UCL semifinals in the 2019-20 edition. In terms of standing within the European game, this is a terrific matchup which should make for an absorbing two-legged affair.
2. Sevilla vs. West Ham
LaLiga title contenders against one of the Premier League’s Champions League qualification hopefuls. Both squads are stacked with top quality players and the fact that the final will be played in Seville will be of major motivation to the Europa League specialists from Spain. Marginally less prestigious than Porto vs. Lyon because of their UCL history, this could still turn out to be the tie of the round with both capable of going all the way. Sadly, the road will end here for one of them.
3. Barca vs. Galatasaray
Another tie which would not look out of place in the Champions League, Xavi’s men will now be considered favorites after disposing of SSC Napoli. The Turkish giants have struggled in Europe in recent years, but the Europa League is perhaps a more realistic level for them to compete on than the UCL. This one could get tricky for Barca, especially away from home, but both legs promise to be vibrant affairs.
4. Atalanta vs. Leverkusen
The Italians have dropped into the Europa League and despite their recent dalliances with the latter stages of the Champions League, they are probably better equipped to mount an assault on the UEL title. In fact, given their development on the continent over the past few years, a Europa League trophy would be a fitting reward for a team which has become one of Europe’s darlings as far as neutrals are concerned.
5. Best of the rest
Elsewhere, there is no shortage of intrigue and Leipzig vs. Spartak will be of particular interest given that they are the sole remaining Russian club in Europe this season after Zenit Saint Petersburg were eliminated by Betis who have been rewarded with a tasty Frankfurt meeting.
No decision has been taken yet as to where Russian and Ukrainian clubs might play their continental games on neutral grounds, but Spartak’s home leg will not be taking place in Moscow.
France’s Monaco will fancy their chances against Braga of Portugal while Scottish giants Rangers dumped Borussia Dortmund out and will see a route to the quarterfinals having drawn Serbs Red Star in what has the potential to be a fiery encounter.